According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more than 3 million tons of used electronics, or electronic resources, are discarded into landfills annually. Electronic resources include computers, printers, televisions, mobile phones, VCRs, cameras, audio equipment, and other electronics.

Televisions and computers can contain an average of four pounds of lead, as well as other toxins like chromium, cadmium, mercury, nickel, zinc, and flame retardants. If improperly handled, the toxic materials in electronics and computers can be released into the environment through incinerator ash or landfill leachate. EPA also reports:

§ Nearly 250 million computers will become obsolete in the next five years.

§ By 2005, people will discard 130 million cell phones per year, which generates 65,000 tons of used electronics containing lead and brominated flame retardants.

§ Manufacturing one desktop computer requires fossil fuels and chemicals that amount to at least nine times the weight of the computer.

You can be a part of the solution to the growing recycling challenge – by becoming an educated consumer, user, and recycler of electronic products.

Here are some tips for reusing and recycling electronic resources:

§ Refurbish, fix, or upgrade your equipment so you can continue to use it.

§ Donate your old electronics to a local charity for reuse. Make sure the charity will be able to use the item before you donate.

§ When you purchase a new computer or electronic device, ask if the vendor has a program to recycle your old item.

§ Drop off your old electronics at a local computer and electronics recycling event. Check with your local community solid waste department to find out about events in your area.